Is heat or ice better for hip bursitis?

Written by katiana zimmerman
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Bursitis is a painful inflammatory condition that affects the joints. Hips, shoulders, knees and elbows are often locations for bursitis. Many effective treatments exist for hip bursitis.


Symptoms of bursitis include stiff or achy joints that hurt when you move, according to the Merck Manual. The affected area may appear swollen and red, and it may be sensitive to pressure.


According to the Mayo Clinic, bursitis s caused by inflammation of the bursae, small fluid-filled pads that cushion bones and joints. When a bursa becomes inflamed, bursitis results.

Treatment with Ice

The Physicians' Desk Reference recommends placing an ice pack over the affected area three to four times a day for 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and pain. Treatment with ice may be continued as needed to relieve pain.

Treatment with Heat

Heat should be applied after ice, when the area is cool to the touch. The PDR suggests using a hot pack, heating pad, warm bath or whirlpool. Resume treatment with ice if swelling or redness recurs.

Additional Treatment

Your physician may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen. For more severe cases, steroid injections may be indicated.


If joint pain lasts for more than two weeks, pain is shooting or sharp upon exertion or there is excessive redness or swelling, follow the Mayo Clinic's advice and see your health care provider right away.

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